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Jerusalem Canal Where Jews Hid from Roman Legions Found

reprinted from Arutz 7
27 Elul 5767, 10 September 07

by Gil Ronen

( The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday that it found the site which served as a backdrop for a famous scene in one of the great tragedies of Jewish history: the Great Rebellion against Rome which culminated in the destruction of the Temple. The Authority has uncovered a 70 meter long section of Jerusalem's main drainage duct. It was inside this drainage duct that Jerusalem's Jewish inhabitants hid from the Roman invaders when they sacked Jerusalem, according to historian (and Jewish turncoat) Josephus Flavius.

Jerusalem was conquered by Roman general Titus Flavius in the year 70 CE, after a prolonged siege. Unable to breach the city's defenses, the Roman armies dug a trench around the city's walls, and built another wall around that trench. Anyone caught attempting to flee the city was be captured and crucified. Tens of thousands of crucified bodies encircled Jerusalem by the end of the siege.

Throughout the siege, many of the Jewish warriors' family members hid out in a drainage canal that carried rainwater from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Shiloach (Siloam, or Silwan). This is the duct that has been exposed by archaeologists. When the city fell, some of the Jews hiding in the duct managed to escape through its southern section.

Liberty or Death

By the summer of 70, the Romans had breached Jerusalem's walls, ransacking and burning nearly the entire city. Contemporary historian Tacitus notes that those who were besieged in Jerusalem numbered more than six hundred thousand, and that men and women alike and Jews of all ages engaged in armed resistance, preferring death to a life that involved expulsion from their country.

Dig directors Professors Roni Reich of Haifa University and Eli Shukrun of the Antiquities Authority said that over the past 1,937 years, the valley which Jerusalem's main road was in, and the famous canal beneath it, was covered by a ten meter deep layer of sediment. Only after digging through this dirt were the ancient ruins exposed.

The canal, they told reporters Sunday, is made of hewn rock and pavement stones. It is three meters high and one meter wide in parts, and walking through it is easy. Pottery, parts of clay vessels and coins from the Second Temple period were discovered in it.

The northern segment of the canal, which has yet to be uncovered, apparently reaches the Kotel area.

It should be noted that while Josephus' accounts are the most detailed source for information regarding the Great Rebellion, the degree of their historical accuracy is a matter of dispute.

Second Temple Period Drainage Canal Unveiled

reprinted from Arutz 7
26 Elul 5767, 09 September 07

( Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and the City of David Foundation unveiled an important remnant of life in ancient Jerusalem on Sunday. The main drainage canal of the holy city, dated around the first century CE, before the destruction of Second Temple and the City of Jerusalem, was displayed for the first time to journalists near the entrance to the City of David.

The 70-meter long segment is located between the Temple Mount and the Siloam Pool and stretched underneath the main street of the Old City. The drain carried rainwater from the area of the Western Wall now used as the Jewish Quarter, and the western area of the City of David, to the Kidron River near the Dead Sea. Shards and coins were also found at the site. Archaeologsts Roni Reich and Eli Shukrun said they had to dig 10 meters deep in order to reach the main street. They added that Jews hid in the drain on their way to the southern gate of the Old City as they fled the Roman siege, according to the account of the period by the historian Josephus.

The IAA has, however, blocked archaeologists from inspecting a ditch being dug by the Wakf (Arab Religious Authority) with heavy machinery on the Temple Mount that may be of equal importance. Vehement insistence by the archaeologists that precious artifacts from the Second Temple period are being destroyed by the construction have been met with silence. Photos snapped surreptiously, despite police attempts to block entry to the site, show chunks of stone that appear to be part of a wall from the era.



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